Residents told to evacuate as their homes fall into the sea

 

 

Owners of beachfront homes teetering on the brink of collapse face the prospect of watching millions of dollars slip into the ocean because most insurance policies do not cover "actions of the sea".

Residents will  be asked to evacuate 18 homes deemed as being at "high-risk" of a coastal erosion crisis at Wamberal on the NSW Central Coast, later today.

Two houses had already partially collapsed into the water yesterday, while parts of people's bathrooms, staircases, balconies and foundations have been exposed or fallen away.

Prestige oceanfront homes in Wamberal have been hammered by huge swells this week. Picture: David Swift
Prestige oceanfront homes in Wamberal have been hammered by huge swells this week. Picture: David Swift

Affected locals were invited to an emergency meeting yesterday where residents of the at-risk homes were told they could return to collect personal belongings at low tide on Sunday, and again today, with the homes evacuated indefinitely.

Power, gas, and water is set to be switched off by Tuesday.

It is unlikely owners of properties damaged or destroyed by the severe erosion will be able to claw any money back for the damage, because erosion is not commonly covered by home insurance.

Sandbags were being craned into number 53 to try and protect it from the swell. Picture: David Swift
Sandbags were being craned into number 53 to try and protect it from the swell. Picture: David Swift

"Some (policies) cover storm surge under certain circumstances, (but) most household policies do not cover actions of the sea," Insurance Council of Australia spokesman Campbell Fuller told The Daily Telegraph.

Furious residents yesterday blamed "incompetence and inactivity" of Central Coast Council for not building a sea wall to mitigate the longstanding issue of erosion.

Ocean View Drive resident Margaret Brice, who has been told her back deck is unsafe to stand on, said homeowners had been prevented from protecting their properties by putting in place stabilisation measures.

Number 53’s kitchen has collapsed. Picture: David Swift
Number 53’s kitchen has collapsed. Picture: David Swift

"If we were in a bushfire and there was a fire next door … we'd be allowed to defend our property," she said.

"Would you have to put in a DA (Development Application) to grab a hose to protect your house?"

A council spokeswoman said residents have been asked to get "sound and reliable engineering advice" if they want to put in place measures to protect their properties.

The major erosion was caused by high tides that battered the coastline for days.

Originally published as Residents told to evacuate as their homes fall into the sea



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